John Wright, PLNU theology professor and pastor at the Mid-City Church of the Nazarene, was placed on a leave of absence after being accused of sexual assault and rape in a lawsuit from Jan. 16, 2018.
The lawsuit also makes claims against the Mid-City Church of the Nazarene itself, as well as against 20 unnamed defendants.
The accuser, referred to as “A.M.,” said in the formal legal complaint that in 2014 Wright offered to heal her from PTSD that she told him she developed as a child as a result of long-term sexual abuse. She accepted the offer, according to the complaint, “thinking that [it] would be as a mentor-mentee relationship.”
A couple of years later, in 2016, it is alleged that the relationship escalated. A.M. claimed Wright offered her “sexual healing” as a part of their meetings.
“Whenever A.M. questioned Wright about their sexual relationship, Wright stressed to her that he was only doing this to ‘heal her’ from her childhood sexual abuse,” read the lawsuit. “He convinced her that it was a necessary part of the healing process and that she needed to continue with the sexual relationship in order to get better.”
While the relationship lasted for nearly a year, ending in October 2017, the lawsuit claims that A.M. did not consent to any of the sexual contacts made by Wright.
“At all relevant times, A.M. did not or could not consent to any acts of sexual intercourse or any other sexual acts because Wright used his position of authority over her and his knowledge of her past as a victim of sexual abuse to coerce her into acts she would not have otherwise consented to,” the complaint read.
A message was sent from Dr. Caye Smith, PLNU Title IX Coordinator, to PLNU students on Feb. 2, 2018 addressing the allegations and claiming to have been aware of them since late last year, when a third-party was hired to investigate the claims.
“At the end of November 2017, an allegation of faculty misconduct was brought to the university’s attention. University leadership took the allegation seriously and immediately hired an independent firm specializing in Title IX and misconduct investigations. In accordance with established policy, the faculty member was placed on a leave of absence pending the outcome of the investigation.”
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, protects students at all levels from discrimination on the basis of sex within the educational program.
A post on Mid-City Church of the Nazarene’s Facebook page from Jan. 26, 2018 was written by a woman with the initials of A.M. and said, “So sad that our church, like many other churches unfortunately, stands by the Pastor instead of those [who] were victimized by his sexual abuse.”
Although it is not confirmed that this is the same A.M. mentioned in the lawsuit, attempts made to reach A.M. through the Facebook post were redirected to her lawyer Dan Gilleon for further comment. Gilleon was not available, but is listed on the official complaint as A.M.’s lawyer.
The Point also reached out to Wright, Charlene Patterson, PLNU Title IX assistant coordinator, Jill Monroe, PLNU Public Affairs Director, Kevin Cahill, PLNU legal counsel, the Mid-City Church of the Nazarene and Smith. All parties were unresponsive.
The official document stating the complaints against Wright is public record and included below. If you have any additional information regarding the allegations, contact The Point’s Editor in Chief, Dana Williams, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Point will keep the PLNU and Nazarene communities informed as more details develop.